Every reviewer brings their own unique baggage to the table but when you're setting out to write reviews to fit into an religious or political agenda, platform, or whatever doesn't the review suffer? How can you honestly appraise a movie if you go with a set of predisposed opinions? To be honest I thought long and hard about those questions. It is a fact reviewers and critics bring their own unique views to reviews. Sometimes we may not even be aware of the fact. I know my likes and dislikes, which form my own predispositions, thus even though I try to appraise movies without bias the truth is there are no reviewers without bias. If we were truly unbiased we'd not have a critical remark to make about any movies we watch and, honestly, that would make for some boring reviews.
That said I may have stumbled across one of the funnier things I've read on the net in a while. It's a review of UNDERWORLD 3 (haven't seen it yet) from a site called movieguide dot org. They are very upfront about who and what they are, which at least makes them honest. But what's interesting is, according to the site mission statement, they are: "A Family Guide to Movies and Entertainment a Publication of the Christian Film & Television Commission(tm) ministry and Good News Communications, Inc., a Not-For-Profit 501(C) 3 Donor Supported Publication dedicated to Redeeming the Values of the Mass Media of Entertainment. Good News Communications is a ministry dedicated to redeeming the values of the mass media according to biblical principles by influencing media executives to adopt higher standards imbued with Christian and traditional family values, and by informing and equipping moral people in America and around the world, especially parents, families and Christians, to make wise media choices based on the biblical worldview."
I like how they're not merely a movie review site with an agenda but a "ministry". Movie reviewing as a ministry? Halleluiah!
Alas, you'll note, nowhere in their mission statement does it saying anything about bringing insightful critical acumen to the movies reviewed. How refreshingly unpretentious! I wont even open the whole: "Whose Christianity?" can of worms. Too, I fear the bit about "redeeming the values of the mass media" may be a fools errand as the values of mass media is the bottom line, which, in biblical terms, means they worship Mammon. But I digress.
There's a very nice, and brief, synopsis provided before the core review of UNDERWORLD 3 that states: "[This is] a prequel of how the vampires, humans, and werewolves went to war with one another. UNDERWORLD 3 is well made, as action fantasy movies go but is filled with extremely graphic violence and scenes of depicted sex, with a very strong fantasy pagan worldview about vampires and werewolves."
And so my confusion began. Now on to my over thinking analysis. .
I'm not sure what "scenes of depicted sex" are, perhaps they mean "scenes depicting sexual subject matter" because, even though I've not seen it, I'm fairly certain you don't see any genitalia in this move much less scenes depicting intercourse. What was the rating of UNDERWORLD 3? XXX? No. Then it must be NC-17? No. Hmm. Let's see, oh, it's rated R. Uh-huh.
Doesn't "depict" mean "that which is portrayed" or "to show" thus the above would mean, literally, "scenes showing sex". Do we really see "sex" in R-rated movies? Ah, but "sex" is one of those words we have in the English language that's imprecise and open to wild and far ranging interpretation. Some use the word to mean "sexuality" others use it to infer "eroticism" and always there's those that use the word vaguely in order to leave the context inferred by the reader. But, as I said, of one thing I am certain: There's no coitus in UNDERWORLD 3. Thus no "sex". Then again this is one of those instances where the word is intentionally left vague and open to interpretation.
What is truly curious is the summation of the movie as containing an "very strong fantasy pagan worldview" because without Christianity there would be no vampire folklore. In fact modern vampire folklore sprang out of the paranoia and witch hunts engendered, in part, by medieval Christianity in Europe. I'll save you the long boring essay explaining the history but, suffice it to say, that oversimplified summation is factually erroneous.
However one thing I find endearing is how this site provides a rather comprehensive "content" list which includes loaded phrases like: "Pagan worldview with revenge motive" and "extreme violence with much blood and gore; martial arts fighting" and "depicted sexual scenes of unmarried couple".
Considering the reviewer already slammed the movie for depicting an "pagan worldview" that last statement seems like a superfluous barb. Why not just write: "scenes depicting expressions of sexuality between unmarried non-Christians"? To use the word "couple" insinuates a relationship and that can't be bad, can it? I mean since they're "pagan" but are a "couple" that means they are involved in a relationship, as opposed to merely having casual sex with random partners, and that should have some socially redeeming quality, right? Yeah. Sounds ridiculous to me, too.
However the following isn't just confusing it's cuckoo nonsense: "upper male nudity, implied female nudity, female cleavage".
Upper male nudity? What, you mean a guy took his shirt off or there was a scene at a beach or something? Sorry. That's just plain stupid. But not as stupid as this: Female cleavage. O-M-G it's FEMALE CLEAVAGE run for the hills RAGNAROCK is upon us, ARMAGEDDON hath begun and wormwood has turned the waters bitter heralding the beginning of the END TIMES!
Sorry. Bit of a overreaction that. Yet I can't help wonder if we're suppose to infer that these people think women ought to be wearing burkhas? Makes you wonder if they have a listing for "butt cleavage" for comedies in which guys butt cracks are shown. Somehow I doubt they do.
But, wait. What was last one: Implied nudity?
Either a person is nude or they are not. In the old B&W movies of the 40s and 50s the camera would cut away to a shadow on a wall. I guess that would qualify as: implied nudity and implied depicted sex? Is it just mere or does there seem to be a debit of common sense here. Makes you wonder how this site would rate a movie like THE BLUE ANGEL or MOULIN ROUGE. But, hey, at least there'd be "no obscenities or profanities" just a lot of implications.
You can read the full UNDERWORLD 3 review here.